Keeping up with the terms and jargon can be sometimes frightening. We hope that the following Coin Collecting Glossary on the most frequently used terms, acronyms and definitions will be beneficial to you. If we missed a word or phrase, please contact us and let us know. We would like to grow and expand this list with your help.
Early American Coppers
An area of certain coins that is significant to the strike.
One of the first coins struck from a pair of dies. Such coins are generally fully struck, with no die flaws, and they are usually Prooflike and/or exhibit cameo contrast.
The third side of a coin. It may be plain, reeded, or ornamented – with lettering or other elements raised or incuse.
A group of letters or emblems on the edge of a coin.
"Extremely Fine' (the grade) and "40" (the numerical designation of the grade). Also called XF-40. About 90% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.
"Extremely Fine" (the grade) and "45" (the numerical designation of the grade). Also called XF-45. About 95% of the original detail is still evident and the devices are sharp and clear.
The coin is created by the electrolytic method, in which metal is deposited into a mold made from the original. The obverse and reverse metal shells are then filled with metal and fused together – after which the edges sometimes are filed to obscure the seam.
For numismatic condition purposes, the various components of grading. In other numismatic contexts, this term refers to the various devices and emblems seen on coins.
Symbol or mark used as an identifying mark.
The order in which die states are struck. Also, the die use sequence for a particular issue.
Refers to the grading service's practice of placing a certified coin in a sealed plastic holder. Once encapsulated, the coin is protected and bears the certified grade, guarantees, etc. before being returned to the submitter.
The person responsible for the design and/or punches used for a particular numismatic item.
A term applied to toning that results from storage mainly in 2 x 2 manila envelopes; most paper envelopes contain reactive chemicals.
Corrosion-effect seen on a coin that has been exposed to the elements. This may be minor, such as toning that is nearly black, to major - a coin found in the ground or water which has severely pitted surfaces. PCGS does not grade coins with environmental damage.
Synonym for “worn die”
A numismatic item that by coincidence varies from the standard. Ordinarily, overdates are not errors since they were done intentionally while other die-cutting “mistakes” are considered errors. Double dies, planchet clips, off-metal strikings are also referred to as errors.
Term for trial, pattern, and experimental strikings. The anglicized version is essay and literally means a test or trial.
This refers to the lower part of the design, below the main design and generally separated from the field by a line.
A specialist in a particular numismatic area. (i.e. A copper expert, a gold expert, a paper money expert, a D-Mint expert, etc.)
Alternate form of Extremely Fine
The grades EF40 and 45. This grade has nearly full detail with only the high points worn, the fields rubbed often with luster still clinging in protected areas.
The element of a coin's grade that "grabs" the viewer. The complete appearance of a coin.